Fourteen years ago, I met a young girl who now owns a piece of my heart! Kirsten is a remarkable young woman. When you first meet her, she will tell you that she was born with Asperger Syndrome and because of that she learns differently than others. While Asperger’s makes it harder for her to do some things, she also has some wonderful strengths. When Kirsten meets someone, they are in her memory forever. She has good memories of students and teachers she’s met here over the last 14 years here. We invite everyone who has been a student or a teacher at The Freeman Center to return and share some laughs, memories and pizza with a special student and friend who is close to family to us. Kirsten will be happy to see you and so will I!
Our building was built in 1923 in the Historic Edison District of Centralia. Its design incorporated elements of popular designs of the day, from the “dog-eared” ridges of its high roof to the wide, front porch with a 40″ wide front door, heavy corbels and semi-circular roof. For the first 83 years of its life it served as home to a few families. It was always well cared for and stood tall as many people traveled 1st Street between downtown and Fords Prairie.
In 2007, this fine, old home became the home of The Freeman Center. Today, it includes four classrooms (formerly known as Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom and Den). The long-neglected basement was renovated into a “Science Laboratory”. Today, it is not uncommon to see young students learning to read, older students working on math or language, high school students learning Algebra while a group of students are in the basement building rockets or Lego robots.
This is what happens when a guy has a shop, access to wood, a bit of free time and a wild imagination! The idea sprung from a discussion of geometry which included using the angles and proportions of a pencil to create problems for students to solve. A few weeks later, a giant pencil was born. It is 24′ tall and 2′ in diameter. The body is made from 12″x 1/2″ recycled cedar. The ferrule is three pieces of sheet metal, shaped and riveted together. The current eraser is made from a 40 gallon drum which was made in Greece. The current point was turned from laminated wood which was recycled from the pipes of a 1906 theater pipe organ. The tip is actually the end of a metal pipe from the same pipe organ. It is made from a zinc and lead alloy so it looks a lot like graphite!
Students who work hard at The Freeman Center not only improve their grades in school and develop skills and strategies to help them succeed in life but they can also earn “cruises” in vintage cars. They are invited to take friends and/or family members for the ride and stop for ice-cream along the way.
Along the way, the topics of conversation range from local history and old cars, to their hopes and dreams for their future. It is a time enjoyed by all.
Brock has worked very hard for the last several months. His skills are improving quite well, his attitude is great and he has set some goals for himself.
One of the goals is to take his brother and dad for cruises in our old cars. We had the first cruise last week. It was nice to have a sunny day in January. They enjoyed their ride and the ice-cream.
It is sure nice that our students choose to hang out with us outside of class…even if we do have to bribe them!